A Dose of Advice: Pharmacists Answer Your Health Questions
A Dose of Advice is a regular Q&A series that features trusted Guardian® and I.D.A.® pharmacists from communities all across Canada. This edition features Jaclyn Makowichuk, pharmacist at Sandstone I.D.A. Pharmacy in Calgary, Alberta.
Dear Jaclyn: My dad suffered from depression for most of his life, and I’m worried I might too. How can I tell if it’s depression or if I’m just feeling down?
While it’s true that people with a family history of depression are more likely to suffer from the illness, depression is a combination of biochemical, environmental and genetic factors, so just because your dad suffered from the illness, doesn’t mean you will too.
If you experience a noticeable change in mood, if you’ve lost interest in activities you used to enjoy, or if feeling down has affected your daily activities for an extended period of time, speak to your doctor. Depression can be overcome, with the proper diagnosis and treatment.
Pharmacists can help in several ways. Your local Guardian® or I.D.A.® pharmacist can answer any medication-related questions or concerns you might have. We can help explain the side effects of your treatment regimen, for example. We also have a variety of tools effective at monitoring depression. Rest assured that these consultations are private, so you can feel comfortable talking to us about your personal situation.
Dear Jaclyn: I’ve been struggling with what seems to be anxiety without a cause. What can I do to cope?
Anxiety is a common response to certain situations, such as taking a test. In regular cases, anxiety is linked to a specific event and goes away when that event is over. But when the worrying persists over time, or if you’re stressed for no apparent reason, you may be dealing with a general anxiety disorder.
Here are some of the most common physical symptoms experienced by individuals with anxiety: a racing heartbeat, dizziness, a choking feeling. Psychological symptoms include constant worrying and difficulty concentrating.
Anxiety is usually exacerbated by certain triggers. Once you know what the root of the problem is, then managing the condition will become easier. Managing anxiety usually involves a combination of medication and counselling. There are also lifestyle changes that can help you cope:
- Make sure you’re getting regular exercise. Aim for aerobic activity at least three times a week.
- Getting enough sleep is crucial, as is learning to relax and control your breathing.
- Try to avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages, as well as stimulants, such as other medications (speak to your local pharmacist for more information.)
Dear Jaclyn: I’m feeling better lately. Can I stop taking my medication?
You should never stop any treatment or medication without consulting your pharmacist or physician. When it comes to mental health, it’s very important to keep taking your medication unless otherwise instructed.
For a dose of our pharmacists’ advice, go to guardian-ida-pharmacies.ca.